Leticia, Tabatinga and the Amazonas

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Brazil

What a start for the World Cup. At the frontier of Peru, Colombia and Brazil we enjoyed the game Brazil versus Croatia in a local bar in Leticia. We were really surprised when everyone jumped up and cheered when the Croatians scored and yelled “suzio” (dirty) from Neymar’s foul. Afterwards we had an auto convoi of the Brazilians.

Michael organized us a boat for Saturday. We wanted to do the Amazonas trip from Leticia to Manaus on a boat. Due to the Presidential election the Colombian funnywise closed the boarder for the whole weekend. Means we had to move from one hostel to another – from Leticia, Columbia to Tabatinga, Brazil.

Since we had to get the exit stamp from Colombia, we had to go back to the airport. They moved the immigration office a year ago. Afterwards the Tuktuk brought us to the immigration office of Brazil and to a new Hotel. Michael misunderstood the Portuguese and we ended up with a room with one single bed. Good that we have already hammocks and one could sleep in it already.

Not that we plan to sleep in the hammock for 3 nights on the boat. The trip to Manaus takes 4 days and 3 nights, 250 people on two levels, watching the World Cup and snoozing in a hammock. Yes you heard right. We do have TV on board so we can at least watch the first German game against Portugal. The Germans scored 4:0, what a blast.

Actually in the night it got pretty cold and my sleeping back was needed. We had a great time on the boat with all the different nationalities. For almost each single game we had someone supporting with a jersey and cheers.

Four days later and sour from all the sitting we arrived in Manaus.


Accommodation: Hostal La Jangada, Carrera 9 # 8-106, Leticia

Price: COP 22 000 dorm room, shared bathroom, WiFi

Comment: we had a reservation but somehow they got overbooked. But they solved it nicely and we got a breakfast for free. Also arranged everything with our boat and another Hotel in Tabatinga.

Accommodation: Hotel Paje, Am97_34122774, Tabatinga

Price: Real 15 single room, own bathroom, hammock hooks 

Comment: little misunderstanding with single/double so one had to sleep in a hammock, haha. Very clean and friendly owners.


Boat: Real 200 per person, 4 days, 3 nights, food included



Bogota - and being robbed

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Colombia

Why can’t they just give you the realistic travel time for busses? Every time it takes 1-2 hours longer than announced and this just has a negative effect. We just say “We get there when we get there”.

When we finally reached Bogotá, we explored a bit the Candelaria area with its old town. The Carrera 7 is completely closed for pedestrians and bikers. Masses of people strolled around the little stalls with world cup accessories – flags, Team-Jersey, footballs, etc. – and enjoying the street artists.

At the Santander Park my shoes got a new color after a cleaning job and we smiled at the Colombian style of a telephone booth. A couple of mobiles attached to a portable wooden stick where you can call for Peso 750 per minute. At the tourist office they gave us the map and marked us the save area of Bogotá. Guess what, just 5 % of the city is supposed to be safe.

And this is what we actually found out the next day. In the so called safe zone of Candelaria we got robbed. Strange thing was when this man approached us we just knew what was coming. The man grabbed my hand and hold a knife in front of my face. I saw the tripod coming. Michael got the guy but at the same time two more man pulled him back.

While Michael tried to get rid of his attackers, the man with the knife grabbed me again. A passenger bus passed us and the bus stopped at the corner where they called the police. Everything was so fast and at the same time strangely in slow motion. While I passed slowly the asked item to the man, I saw the police officer running towards us. All three went off and even with the police car we couldn’t find the attackers.

What an irony getting robbed between a police station and a stationed police officer. But we were lucky so we didn’t want to go back to the hostel. Pumped with adrenaline we drove up with the teléferico, the cable car, to the El Santuario de Monserrate. This church lies on top of the mountain where you get a spectacular view over the city. So we appreciated also the night skyline.

The next morning we went to the police station to file our report. Afterwards we took a bus to Zipaquirá. This town became famous for its salt mines. But not the mine itself it was, we took an interest in, the real attractions are the Stations of the Cross and the big cathedral with the eerie light deep into the mine. What a remarkable experience.

It was time to go on. Our flight will bring us to Leticia, a town situated in the Amazonas. Here three countries come together – Colombia, Brazil and Peru.

Accommodation: Hostal Aventureros De La Candelaria, Carrera 3 # 12C -8, Bogotá


Price: COP 45 000 private room, own toilet, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen, incl. intercontinal

Comment: Colombian run, more Latin American customers – great for practicing your Spanish. In the
                   Candelaria center, quiet, the bathrooms could be a bit cleaner.


Salento and Park Los Nevados

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Colombia

The next morning we took the bus to Salento. This town lies up in the mountains on 1900m altitude. Due to the long weekend the town organized a food and artist festival and hundreds of Columbians from all over the country joined the fiesta.

Trout was the specialty so we definitely had to try it. The fish in the garlic butter sauce was really tasty and afterwards we found some really good life music. You really have to go into the stores or you will miss out the beautiful courtyards hidden in the houses, with even more stores, cafes and bars.

We explored a bit the Valle de Cócora and at the Reserva Acaime we observed those beautiful and quick hummingbirds. After 4 hours we made it back to the Willy-Jeeps which brought us back to Salento.

Michael tried to organize a three day trip into the National Park Los Nevados. We wanted to go up on the snow field of the volcano. Two people we have met while traveling wanted to join us but unfortunately one had a spread ankle and one a massive cold.

Luckily Felipe, our Guide, offered us a super deal for the two of us and off we went with him into the mountains. Another traveler recommended us Felipe and gave us the contact details. Our guide was extremely fit since he runs half marathons and goes thrice a month into the mountains.

The first day we did the 2000m altitude on a horse back. It was like cross-country and I never thought a horse could walk those kind of tracks. Not only was it muddy as hell, it was steep and stony. One time our horses had all 4 legs in the air. I felt bad for the animals, especially when they were pumping like crazy.

When we passed the first retreat Michael’s horse went nuts and ran through the gate. Unfortunately the gate was pretty tight and Michael’s knee bumped painfully against the post. We arrived Astrid’s retreat at around 4pm and completely exhausted from sitting in the saddle we actually lie down till dinner. Well this up and down on a horse back is actually a lot of work.

The nights where cold but we had plenty of heavy blankets. The shelter was like the ones in the Himalaya, made of wood, where the wind just blows through. The kitchen was a dark and smoky place, but warm. The wooden fire made our eyes watery but better than freezing.

On the second day we left early since we had 10 hours and 1400m each way ahead of us. The ice field of the volcano starts at around 5000m and that’s where we wanted to go. It was a tough hike since we walked on animal trails – muddy, slippery and narrow.

Michael got a headache due to the altitude but Felipe was well prepared and had some medicine. Since Felipe had a massive condition he had a tough pace. Sometimes he was a bit too fast for us but we caught up and after the last climb we finally made it up to the ice field.  You could smell the sulfur and we left a message in the snow before our descent.

Well don’t do this hike if you don’t have a very good condition since it is a lot of climbing. Especially the altitude is a bastard. But we made it and felt so good that we did a detour to a nice lagoon on our way back. Tired and hungry we wolfed our food down. We have to say, Astrid cooks fantastic and I couldn’t finish the massive portions.

On the third day we hiked back to Salento. After 6 hours and 2000m altitude, lot of sliding on this crazy muddy trail, we reached our hostel but unfortunately they didn’t have a room available. But we found a very nice and quiet hostel where we could do some laundry and clean our boots. We had a nice dinner with our guide before we fell in bed.

The last days in Colombia will be in Bogotá so we had to get ready for our 10 hours bus ride.

Accommodation: Hostal Tralala, Cra 7, no. 6-45, Salento

Price: COP 20 000 per person, 8 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen, TV room

Comment: nice but you cannot make a reservation for one night so when we came back after an
                   extremely exhausting 3 day hike into the mountains there were no rooms left. I think this is
                  bad customer service since we had been already customers

Accommodation: Hostal El Jardin, Salento

Price: COP 20 000 per person, 3 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen

Comment: very quiet atmosphere with only another couple in the whole hostel